A New Ed Department

“Yes, our educational priorities and needs have shifted over the last decade. Despite these changes, though, we are still focused on important issues such as teacher development, 21st century and STEM skills, education technology, and the P-20 education continuum. How we address these issues and the outcomes we expect from them have changed dramatically, though. A new approach, with new foci, serves as a strong rhetorical tool to make clear that education, edu-investment, edu-transformation, and edu-innovation are central to the rebuilding of our nation. And such rhetoric is all the more important when current economic concerns make it difficult to fund new policy ideas straight out of the gate, a fact that is all too real today.”

From Eduflack’s latest over at Medium, exploring the need for a new structure and new foci at the US Education Department

The Inequity of Learning Pods

The public discussions of “learning pods” are growing by the week, as desperate families take to social media to find others to pod with and teachers begin to promote their services as a pod “facilitator” in search of a safer, easier to manage learning environment.

But is the future of public education really found in a model where families are spending, in some instances, thousands of dollars more each month to facilitate online learning in the public schools? And do we really want to say the only way hybrid education works is if parents can be prepared to spend more than their current property taxes to insert their children into learning pods?

We explore the issue on the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here.

And How Was Your Corona-Ed Spring?

Why yes, dear ol Eduflack did tell the New Jersey media that this year’s emergency virtual education was a “frustrating disaster” for special education students. When you suspend federal protections the first week in, delay IEP meetings with families for months, and put off IEP and 504 decisions until “later in the fall,” what would you call it?

You can read the full article here, as the Garden State begins to walk back the hard school reopening stance its pushed all summer.

Let’s Spend Our Edu-Virus Dollars Wisely

For most students, school will soon be back in session. Many big city districts have chosen to remain virtual for the start of the year. Some, like New York City, are insisting on going hybrid. But all can agree it is going to be an expensive school year.

Recently, Congress has debated the need for $175B or so in new federal education dollars to make whatever happens happen. But we aren’t debating how to make sure we use those dollars well.

Yes, $175B is a lot of dollars. But when we look at the long-term needs of students, is it best spent on hand sanitizer and disinfectants and plexiglass and nearly empty yellow buses, or is it better spent on teacher professional development and technology and high-speed internet?

We explore the topic on the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here.

When It Comes To Reopening Schools, There Is No One Answer

President Donald Trump and EdSec Betsy DeVos want brick-and-mortar schools open for business this fall. Teachers, their unions, parents, and many others want to keep them closed, with teaching happening virtually, until their are guarantees on health, safety, and vaccines.

If we know anything, it is that a one-size-fits-all approach to schools just doesn’t work. There are too many variables, too many issues, and too many reasons why we prefer to leave education decisions to states and localities.

On the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network, we explore for topic of reopening and why we shouldn’t look to the feds for all the answers. Give it a listen here.

No, We Don’t Have Equity. But This Could Start the Discussion.

We shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that the institution of virtual education in response to the coronavirus epidemic means we now have equitable k12 education. But if we are fortunate, it just might force a very real discussion of how we start working toward equity in teaching, learning, and access.

How? We explore the topic on the most recent episode of TrumpEd on the BAM Radio Network. Give it a listen here.

Equity, Access and Online Learning, Oh My!

What Should Come Next?

Across the nation, schools and educators are doing everything they can to react to the new normal that is our covid society. For most, that has meant shifting to virtual education and trying to deliver existing lesson plans online.

It’s only natural that this past month – and likely the next two or three – will largely be reactive to the current circumstances. It what if were to spend the summer being proactive, using the warmest of months to focus on educator professional development and how best to empower teachers to take full advantage of the new instructional world likely before ya?

https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/managing-the-evolving-new-normal-reactive-versus-proactive/Dear ol’ Eduflack explores this topic on the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen!

Are We Up to Online Learning?

This week, tens of millions of students transitioned from traditional classrooms to virtual learning environments. This is the new normal of the coronavirus era.

But with high-speed data deserts and a decade of anti-Common Core parents failing against technology-driven instruction, are we prepared to make the most of this new normal?

We explore the topic on the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen.

Some New Thinking on Higher Education?

It has now been a decade since the U.S. Congress last reauthorized the Higher Education Act. Back then, we still believed the “average” postsecondary student was an 18-year old fresh out of high school. No one knew what MOOCs were. Free college was barely a glimmer in some policy wonk’s eye. No one foresaw that liberal arts colleges, particularly those in the Northeast, would face potential closure because of financial concerns.

Back then, we didn’t know all that we didn’t know. But in the past decade, it is safe to say that higher education in 2019 is vastly different than higher ed in 2009.

So with all of those changes, isn’t it time we start looking at reauthorizing the Higher Education Act and start rethinking what higher education really is today?

We ask the question and explore the topic on the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network. Give us a listen.


Going Back to College, College, College …

Tributes to LL Cool J (back when he was a rapper) aside, earlier this week Eduflack has the honor and privilege to spend a little time up at Williams College to guest talk at Williams’ Political Leadership course.

The course is taught each year by Jane Swift, the former governor of Massachusetts and the CEO of the terrific Middlebury Interactive Languages. I’ll go on the record and declare I am a HUUGE fan of Governor Swift. That might surprise some, who remember that back in the day I ran a congressional campaign where she was the opponent and I did and said things in the heat of the campaign that I wish I could do over, but it is true. The good governor and I reconnected about a decade ago, after she transitioned from being chief executive of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and was focusing her enormous energies on her passions of education and education technology.

For all the folks who bemoan edtech and how online learning has stripped all meaning from classroom instruction and has kids focused on rote memorization of math and English items for the state test, take a look at what Swift has built up at Middlebury. She and her team have been able to harness the power of interactive technologies to teach foreign language to students across the nation. And they have done it in ways that better prepares the learners for the 21st century, both in their language fluency and in their approach to learning in general.

But I digress. Back to Williamstown and the textbook New England college campus at Williams. As part of Political Leadership (LEAD 250/PSCI 205), this week’s class was focused on trends and tactics when it comes to establishing a political narrative. I was fortunate enough to spend nearly four hours with students in the class. And I was amazed by what I learned from the students.

We can be so quick to stereotype students, particularly in the context of politics. It doesn’t help when it is on a campus like Williams, that carries a long-standing reputation for liberalism. But I found students who represented the political spectrum. More importantly, I engaged with students who had deep reasons for their political beliefs. Those who could distinguish the different forms of feminism when explaining why they may be for or against Hillary Clinton. Those who didn’t share the distain for the fly-over states that we hear from so many political prognosticators. Those who had looked through the talking points of all of the viable candidates to really drill down on how they would lead, who was advising them, and who would be at their sides in a new presidential administration.

What I heard was what “educated voters” continue to say is absent — a new generation of voters who are passionate about issues, inquisitive about candidates, and determined to be informed as to both how politics and policy work. And it helped that these students were also interested in education policy, particularly how it should impact politics but rarely does.

It’s very easy to voice frustration with “today’s college students.” Demands for free college, safe spaces, and the like make it very easy to caricature those on our college campuses. But my visit to Williams gave me hope. I saw the sort of students I wished I had been during my own postsecondary experience. I saw them questioning and pushing back on convention. I saw them seeking to better understand a political system that has largely either taken them for granted or written them off. I saw the future.